12th Amendment: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

In the race to become the president of the United States, you have to get people to vote for you, but you also need votes from the Electoral College. Learn how the 12th Amendment changed the way the president and vice president is voted into office.

What is The 12th Amendment?

Let's say that your school is having an election and you are one of two candidates running for president. On election day, each student casts a ballot in his or her classroom. Whichever candidate gets the most votes wins the popular vote, but they might not win the election. Do you know why? The answer is because your school follows the rules set by the 12th Amendment, just like the United States government.

The 12th Amendment was a change made to the U.S. Constitution.
Constitution

The 12th Amendment, which was signed into law in 1804, is a change that was made to the U.S. Constitution that put the Electoral College in charge of electing the president and vice president. The Electoral College is a group of people that represent each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Their job is to formally cast votes for the president and vice president.

Each state has a set number of electoral votes based on how many people live in the state. For example, a lot of people live in California, so that state has 55 electoral votes. There aren't as many people living in Wyoming, so that state only has 3 electoral votes.

The number of electoral votes for each state is determined by the state population.
ECMap

How Electoral Votes Work

On Election Day, the American people cast their votes in their home state. Those votes are counted up in the state, and whichever candidate gets the majority of votes in his or her state is supposed to get all of the electoral votes for that state.

With the Electoral College system, a candidate could win the popular vote, but get fewer Electoral College votes and lose the election. This happened to Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race. Gore had more votes from the public but fewer Electoral College votes, so he lost the election to George W. Bush.

If your school ran on the Electoral College system, each student would be like an American voter and each classroom would be like a state. The classrooms with the most students would have the most Electoral College votes. To get elected to be the president of your school, you'd have to get the most electoral votes.

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